We are a few days into November — a month that has bled in from the one before it, in a few red leaves and a lot of brown ones. My dear family, ever optimistic,  continues to bundle up and take color walks. I stay in, also bundled, and work on papers while they are out in the woods.

When they return, they share their best finds, and usher winter in, with sticks and other dead bits of forest matter. Andjoli is thrilled with it all. She is walking, dancing, saying more and more.

These autumnal remainders cover our back porch, our table, our kitchen floor. They, alone, mark the month of October. Otherwise we spent it, mostly, one meal to the next, and onward, to the bigger question: With all this talk of being done with teaching and classes in December, with no work lined up, no places we are burning to leave for, no real aims outside of what we are already living, what precisely will we do?

After some long discussions, we have settled on more of the same. I have decided to continue on in school, and am applying to a second PhD program. B is also preparing to go back to school in the fall, and is deciding what programs will best suit his interests and skills.

And so I’m un-doing all my former talk about being done because it seems like this is the best possible way for us to keep living this life we love. Graduate school, for all its hard moments, has provided paid opportunities for education, with an additional stipend that provides just enough to live on. And there’s some flexibility in being a student, some time left over that a real job would not allow, to keep investing in our beautiful home, family, and community. Of course, we’d like to find a better balance for all of these things.  And so we are also evaluating the way we move through life (too fast, too heady, too scattered). If we’re going to keep on at the university, I’m going to need to learn something about rest and restoration in the present- rather than continuing to put it off until i’m finished with my degrees.

This must start, I presume with an intentional reduction to the way I (over) schedule my time. I’m not sure, precisely what I intend to do to teach myself to slow down, but I am starting now, to plan a mild spring- committing to fewer things than I’m used to. I have been offered teaching for next semester, and with it, I have tuition coverage. I have decided to take two classes pertinent to my work (as apposed to this semester’s four classes). I will also take a creative nonfiction class which will encourage me to write/process/do something good for myself.

I don’t imagine that a lightening of my academic load will un-train my tendencies to do to much. But it is a beginning.